da da da da da da da da DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA… That’s the sound of TL;DR Thursdays! Get it? It’s the theme song. It sounded better in my head. This week we had an interesting question regarding awkward conversations we’ve had in Korea! We mention a few of the very oddest conversations we’ve had in our video, but truthfully we surprisingly haven’t had that many awkward conversations. However, I’m quite sure we were the cause of awkward conversations with our Korean-English mash up.

I (Martina here) didn’t really think that much about how creative the English language actually was until I started to seriously learn Korean. It’s amazing how English can take any word and flip its meaning so quickly based on the context of the situation. For example, I can describe a good piece of cherry pie as “moving, beautiful, sparkling, pretty” and my friends will understand immediately what I mean. It’s not a literal description, but a feeling or representation of being happy with something. But when I tried to describe food as “pretty” in Korean, I was quickly corrected that food can’t be “pretty” that word is only used for people, clothing, or nature. There is pretty much only one way we have EVER heard food described in Korean, and that’s as “delicious” or “yummy” (mashisoyo or mashitda 맛있다) and super rarely I’ve heard “awesome” DAAAEEEEEEBAK (대박) from the younger crowd. Because of the fluidity of the English language we often use Korean words inappropriately to other Koreans, but it make sense to our English speaking mind. This has happened countless times, where I take an English phrase or description and attempt to use it in Korean conversation. Sometimes even a basic phrase or word can be completly misunderstood.

For example, when you want to get your food in a take out container, you say “pojang” (포장) but if you want to get your coffee in a paper cup, you should say “take out”. I didn’t know about this “takeout” phrase at first (silly me) so one time I had my latte accidentally served in a glass mug and when I asked for the latte to be “pojang”, they handed me a paper bag. I tried to point to my mug and mimic leaving the store but the guy just looked at me dumbfounded. I pointed at the paper cups and so he put a paper cup in my paper bag. -___-` I was totally floored that he couldn’t understand “pojang” as meaning takeout coffee. Luckily, a Korean person beside me understood and said to him, “takeout” which really sounds more like “taekowtu” in Korean. The barista was all like, “OHHHHH SHE MEANS TAKE OUT!” and he put my latte in a paper cup.

I learned that the English word takeout is now a Korean word, but most importantly I learned that not all Korean words were concepts that could be interchanged. I’ve run into this awkward communication moment several times, especially when asking for something “cold” by using the word chuweo 추워 which describes me feeling cold instead of the word chagaun 차가운 which can describe the temperature of my food. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very multicultural Toronto which had people of all cultures with all levels of English that spoke with all types accents (including my very own Baka) that helped me to quickly understand someone’s intentions regardless of if they used the correct word. After working at a coffee shop I myself have heard coffee asked for as take out, to go, take away, in paper, for the car, in my hand, hand held, a tree cup (yup), and sometimes with no words and just a simple hand movement. I supposed Korea is still new to dealing with foreigners speaking their language with an accent or with broken Korean. Nonetheless, after these awkward moments in Korea, we usually share a little laugh at our awkward communication moment and I usually ask for a repeat of the word so I can get it right next time. Everyone is always more then happy to help me learn a new word, and when I comes to my Korean friends, they’re already mixing English and Korean together to form a new kindof language.

  1. Perhaps the “my face is uneven” has something to do with Face Reading?

  2. Simon and Martina, I need your input. So, this “are you Russian” question, happened to me and a friend of mine. The difference is, we’re guys. I feel a bit scarred now, listening to your explanation of what this phrase could mean in Korea, because, well, my episode occurred in a 사우나 while both my friend and I were stark naked. So, my friend and I climb out of the male baths, and as we’re drying ourselves, this Korean man, probably in his 50s is staring at us, for a good long 10 seconds or so and finally comes up to where we are. He gives my friend the elevator, slowly and deliberately and asks “Are you Russian?”…which he actually is, and then does the same to me, only when I reply “Canadian”, he rewards me with a nice friendly belly slap, not too far away from….private areas. Anyhow, I was horrified then, and am now even more worried…thanks for the nightmares, guys. Still love EYK, but I might sue you guys to pay for half of the therapy I will inevitably need now!

  3. I’m re-watching this videos and I was laughing my ass off at the hand gesture, not long ago one of my teachers from Spain, I’m Mexican asked the class what the hand gesture meant and we were all like well you you know *wink* hahaha and he was well that’s what it means to me too, but one of my friends seemed to think differently so I was wondering if in Mexico it meant something else, in the end it was only his friend who used it “incorrectly” xD

  4. I wish they would do a vid on Korean hip hop~drunken tiger,dok2, etc.~That’ll be cool

  5. oh my god lololololololololololololololololololol i’m a big fan of you guys and have been watching many of your videos(especially tldrs ;) ) but this one just tops it all lololololololololololololololol i laughed sooooooooooo hard lol. From now on i think i’ll also think of the gesture when I hear the word original lol. Face is uneven…what??!….as far as i know, there are no korean idioms that are even similar to this..um.. expression;;;;; no idea why the person said that to Martina :P maybe she thought Martina’s face was symmetrical and pretty? XD
    Also, really happy to find out you guys are in Bucheon!!! cause i live in Bucheon as well!

  6. Awww maybe the pervy old man was just hoping because you are so pretty!

  7. they play Bingo together, hhuh? anyone? BINGO? are you ready to bingo? cause im fricking ready to bingo!

  8. wow…..that experience that you mentioned Martina about an ajushii (sorry for spelling) not taking NO for an answer really hits home.  I’m a white female 30-aged American and I’ve been asked if I was Russian before, and at the time I was confused, and now I find it really offensive.  Seriously, just because I’m white and female, you think I’m a prostitute?  You’ve said it’s happened several times to you Martina…..my question for you is how do you deal??  Can you really just shake it off and go ‘oh Korea, you’re so silly’, or does it anger you?  

  9.  Never lost, but I did get in the car, drive to work and realize I forgot my pants.

  10. Dear Martina.
    This comment is totally irrelevant to this video (kinda). But I absolutely love your make-up and hair! the colours and everything are AWESOME!! 

  11. WHY the heck it’s “RUSSIAN saram”???
    I REALLY want to know coz I’m Russian actually and planning to come to S.Korea someday… and now I feel kinda… awkward? LOL

    • Traditionally, many Koreans thought of white women as being slutty or easy. Now, when Russian women began being briught over to work at juicy bars and “business clubs”, for some reason being Russian and a woman means that you are a prostitute or will easily sleep with someone.

      I’ve encountered this questions quite a few times and one time I was approach (on my way to the gym whilst wearing my parka) by a middle-aged men who straight up said to me, “Hey…I want sex. Okay?” Like seriously!!!???? WTF!?!?!…I think typically white women who have larger breasts have this problem more than other foreign women in Korea. It pisses me off for two reasons: 1) Not all Russians fit ghis incredibly stupid stereotype & 2)why do you think it’s ok to talk to a random woman like that?

  12. “Original” makes me think of Shindong.

  13. I want to live in Korea in the future, I studied my primary school years in the French school in Hanoi, Viet-Nam; currently doing my High School studies in Bankgok, Thailand; I want to go to Hong Kong for University and then to Korea for job! Will they give jobs for doctors who don’t speak Korean in Korea?

  14. QUESTION!!! – How do the restaurant/cafe workers/managers reply to you guys when you bring in the camera to film stuff? Do they object? Have you ever been denied from a restaurant because you were trying to film?

  15. Hi Guys,
    I wanted to know how you exactly  found out about korean culture and what made you want to teach in South Korea?

  16. Hi Guys,
    I wanted to know how you exactly  found out about korean culture and what made you wanna teach over in South Korea?

  17. haha! no teacher! ORIGINAL!!! haha

  18. Im rolling over in tears for laughing so hard!

  19. I started watching your videos by chance when i started taking Taekwondo classes 3 weeks ago and Googled Korea. I am officially addicted! Your videos make me want to move to Korea!  

  20. hahahahaha i LOVE ur glasses martina “hello kitty” (^o^)

  21. i LOVE martina’s hello kitty glasses!!!! :O
    is it possible for me to get a pair? :)

  22. In Poland both gestures are used. The first one is for wanking, the second for making out ;)

  23. OMG! Martina! You look so cute with those glasses and that hairstyle ♥ BTW , Martina and Simon , this is my first time being on your site and it is really awesome ^^

  24. Uneven face: it is scientifically proven that ‘pretty’ people or good looking people have very even faces! As in the left is exactly like the right….when its not even…its not as beautiful”

  25. martina you shouldnt of said “naga” u shouldve said “kojo” which means PISS OFF or F**K OFF

  26. i think the whole even.uneven face thing is because, supposedly people are drawn to symmetrical things & are more likely to consider it aesthetically pleasing, where as it’s more difficult to “find the beauty” in something that’s say….lopsided, like a droopy eye or something. growing up my mom watched so many korean dramas & shows & like one of the big disses i remember is someone telling another they’re lopsided or unbalanced or…UNEVEN!
    O___O vs. o __ᄋ

  27. I WANT MORE OF THOSE AWKWARD MOMENTS BETWEEN WAEGUKINS AND KOREANS NAO! >< come on guise..you haven't made one since the Russian saram video…pweaase~

  28. I couldn’t stop laughing when Simon made that gesture talking about what his students told him another student did… I’m from Spain and here, that means that sexual thing gays do (I don’t know if I’m being clear). I don’t think that it means the same in Korea but.. I couldn’t stop laughing because you did it too many times guise… LOL-ing forever xD

  29. BTW, totally unrelated, but the Viva La Spudgy shirt is OOS when I tried purchasing it ): 

  30. Really good post! Loved the bit about the barista. :D

  31. I just have to say that I TOTALLY agree!! I’m now living in China as an exchange student and I’m actually really afraid of speaking Chinese because of the confusion it might cause… Also me and my host sister and my friends are now speaking English-Chinese. All the Chinese people on the metro or bus and things like that thinks it’s really funny, but at least I understand and it’s really funny because most people doesn’t understand what we are talking about. Even though I’ve now been an exchange student for more than 6 months my Chinese is terrible, but at least I can understand and make myself understood. Chinese people are at least really good with hand gestures (mostly)! Really love watching your videos but since I’m in China youtube is not allowed so I can’t watch all of them. Going home to Norway in three months and then I have a years worth of movies from you to watch! Keep going strong! Fighting! 加油! :)

  32. Martina and Simon~~sorry for this totally unrelated question… I really love all the effects you guys use in your videos, which software did you use?Thank you so much^^

  33. Loved the vlog(?) :D
    My dad yelled at me while I was watching it, because I’ve been wanting to ESL teach in Korea for a while now, and he’s saying that you guys are brainwashing me XD

  34. so has that whole ‘russian sanam’ thing happened to you a lot then? and is it quite common with other foreigners as well?

  35. oh my god I just totally lost it hahahhaha we Turks have the same hand gesture for that .. nasty stuff loooooooooool I can’t even hahahha

  36. hi there,
    actually i just wonder about something. simon and martina, are you married?

  37. I LOLed so hard at your ‘ORIGINAL’ hand motion guys, you crack me up! :D Oh and when are you doing a ‘Open the Happy’ about how to do that Count Dracula hair style Martina? Bad reference I know BUT you’ve worn that hair style in at least 3 videos now I wonder how you do it and where you go the idea from.

  38. so im a new fan and i just wanted to let you guys know that you guys seriously make my days! Like i honestly want to be your friend, u guys would be so awesome! Btw so is spudgy real???? or just the cartoon dog dragon thingy that humps everything???! Im confused!

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